Soundbar vs Headphones: Do Sound Bars Improve Sound Quality?

Whether you want an audio device for your gaming set-up or because you are into audio mixing, two of the most common choices are headphones and soundbars (and other speakers).

It comes down to the features, your preferences and the cost. Which of these provide a better experience? Which of these two are more suited for your needs? These are some of the most commonly asked questions. 

Let’s take a look at the features, the difference between the two and some pros and cons. A little knowledge about something you’re so passionate about never hurts!

Headphones

Sony headphone on the palm

For me the fact that headphones are more convenient to carry around is a win win. But that’s not all. When you look at the sound quality delivered, headphones do an exceptional job. 

Headphones give you that isolated sound experience. Premium headphones are especially good at isolating the sound. This means external sound cancellation. 

This allows the listener to experience the sound with utmost clarity. The sound is delivered directly to your auditory canal and into your brain, which is why you can catch on to the smallest details like the singer’s breath perhaps. 

Pros: 

  • Headphones block out external noises completely making the whole experience isolated for the listener. 
  • The sound is not dependent on external factors like room acoustics. 
  • Headphones deliver the sound right to your ear canal and provide great clarity of sound ideal for mixing and recording. 

Cons:

  • You run the risk of causing damage to your hearing ability in the long run if you use headphones constantly. 
  • Some high end headphones may try to produce good bass and a surround effect but it is quite impossible to match the surround produced by a soundbar speaker. 

Soundbars

Old soundbar

Soundbar and speakers obviously do not feed sound directly to your ears. Factors like room acoustics, wall mounts etc come into play when we are talking about a proper speaker setup. 

I’ve seen some gamers prefer a soundbar over a headphone primarily because of the realistic surround effect it can produce. When you’re listening to a sound via a speaker, you’re not just listening to the sound from the speakers but also the sound bouncing off the walls. 

This effect plays with the way you hear the sound and creates a surround effect. When it comes to bass, speakers do a better job too. Some premium headphones do include deep bass features, but that’s all in your mind. With soundbars, you can feel the bass almost physically!

Pros: 

  • Soundbars create a more profound surround effect.
  • Speakers can produce a powerful bass as compared to headphone bass. 

Cons: 

  • Soundbars and speakers in general cannot isolate the sound. Lack of noise cancellation makes it more dependent on external factors like room acoustics etc. 
  • Soundbars and the entire setting up of the device and wiring can be quite an expensive investment. 

Conclusion

This debate between soundbars and headphones have been going on and will perhaps keep going on. At the end of the day, however, the correct choice depends on your preferences and needs. 

Premium devices do deliver a world class experience. Hence, take note of your own preferences and then the brands manufacturing the best device.

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Vitaly Fedorov

Vitaly Fedorov is a seasoned audio technician and writer. After spending ten years in a studio team, I have decided to spread my knowledge to people in this domain. On this site, I work for headphone fixing or repair issues, that you’re thinking about fixing. Click on any article on my site and read the complete answer about that issue. I am excited to read your feedback.

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